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Reflections on transcendent states and sacred plant medicines....

A dialogue I feel is important to consider, yet often overlooked, is the impact of the re-emergence of plant medicines into our cultural awareness over the past few decades, especially over the past few years as this awareness has grown. These powerful medicines are often promoted as a panacea capable of producing deep healing by overzealous converts, yet the potency and cultural context of the use of these medicines is in many cases overlooked.

All traditional cultures who use these medicines exist within a deeply animistic and relational worldview, considering these medicines to be demanding of the greatest respect, due to their ability to deeply open our awareness and interconnectivity with aspects of reality that for most humans are not within our everyday awareness. They understood the powerful effects that these medicines have upon our energetic being: the chakras, layers of the aura, nadis, meridians, energy centers, whatever you choose to call the many complex layers of these subtle aspects of our being.

Furthermore, due to their worldview and traditional ways of living, the people of these cultures bring to these experiences a very different foundational framework than that of those of us who live in a fast paced, disconnected world. No doubt in most cases, their nervous systems are far more regulated; their bodies and minds healthier, more connected to nature; and an understanding of the world and their place in it one that is informed and supported by community, belonging, interconnectivity, respect and responsibility.

In many cultures that use plant medicines, there can often be a long preparation stage before working with these powerful teaching plants, and often this experience is only chosen by a select few, as the power and responsibility of this path is culturally understood, and the wisdom protected by tradition, lineage and initiation.


Yet in our modern world, these medicines are becoming popularised and presentented as a cure-all panacea, served by individuals who are still neophytes themselves, yet are pedestaled as experienced and wise healers.

Misinformation is rife, and projections and expectations abound, as individuals flock to these medicines seeking a wide array of experiences, many searching for extreme experiences, unable to sense the more subtle currents that are often where true healing and reconnection are found.

The dissociated and disconnected modern mind then reacts to and interprets these experiences in a variety of ways, with shadow aspects of our collective psyches often becoming magnified, in many cases causing plant medicines to just be another tool for the ego to justify and glorify it’s existence and status within the community, all under the guise of ill informed concepts of ‘ego’ and ‘spirituality’, and a desensitised nervous system continually chasing further highs, perhaps an addiction stemming from unresolved experiences from the early developmental period.


We should also consider what impact these experiences have on our subtle energy fields; and how these plant medicines, especially when used incorrectly, may potentially cause ruptures, blow-outs, disruptions, and distortions; as well as prematurely opening the field to a level the individual can not truly navigate, which may lead to states of extreme ungroundedness, loss of essential energetic boundaries, magnification of samskaras (energetic imprints) held in the energy field; and inviting in or attaching to unhelpful energies that may be present, sometimes referred to as ‘entities’.

To attempt to conceptualise this, we can imagine what would happen if a high amount of voltage was hooked up to a system that was not ready to handle it. Circuits would blow, and the system would fry. We are no different.

We can apply this same concept to a physical understanding of the body too. In altered states, our delicate biochemistry changes, and often the nervous system is overwhelmed, leading to a cascade of changes throughout the body that may be detrimental if not approached or integrated correctly. From a somatic perspective, titration is important to ensure the body is able to assimilate, process and integrate it’s experiences, yet this awareness is often overlooked or not understood in these communities, so in many cases the nervous system becomes overwhelmed, creating and magnifying trauma and nervous system dysregulation, a disharmony which is already endemic in the modern world.


When we step back into an animistic and relational way of engaging with our world, we also need to remember the importance of living in right relationship with all beings, as well as the consequences of not doing so. Plant medicines are conscious, living beings, and many are rooted in powerful ancestral lineages, often carried by cultures who have been exploited by the modern world. How many individuals who work with these medicines truly acknowledge and live aligned with the responsibility of this path?


Plant medicines are amazing allies that are likely emerging at this time as a powerful wake-up call to help the modern world heal it’s disconnection and reconnect with the reality of our interconnection with the web of life, and have been life changing for many individuals. By sharing these views I do not mean to underestimate their power or importance in these times, but to voice an important but often underrepresented understanding of these medicines, and the responsibility and power of their use.

And remember, you are the medicine, the plants are only here to here to remind and guide you home


Art by Luis Tamani


Gratitude to Shamanic Energy Training and Thetempleofshamanicmagick for your impeccable guidance on returning to living in a deeply animistic and reciprocal way, and the importance of therapy and supporting the body in this work.

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